Concepts for the development and utilization of Enhanced Geothermal Systems at Acoculco, Puebla

GEMex aims to develop EGS (Enhanced Geothermal Systems) stimulation techniques, capable of achieving sufficiently high and sustainable flow rates, in such a way that potential environmental effects are and minimized. Advanced EGS techniques, which are currently being developed in other research projects (DESTRESS and DEEPEGS), will be adapted for use at the Acoculco site.

As a starting point, the geological characterization of the Acoculco area and development of novel model approaches is used to build state-of-the-art models for simulation of both - the stimulation treatment and the lifetime performance of the EGS. An optimal stimulation treatment (including chemical stimulations, hydraulic fracturing, shear fracturing) will be designed, reducing the potential negative impact of environmental effects such as induced seismicity. Dedicated simulation models are used to predict performance indicators related to economic performance, sustainability and environmental safety. Special attention will be paid to the mapping of seismically sensitive areas and the potential impact on drinking water aquifers. Traffic light systems to be recommended will support monitoring and mitigating potential environmental impacts.

The development of utilization concepts for EGS in Acoculco will be accompanied by investigations of public perception of geothermal energy. This work seeks to find answers on:

  1. how local communities perceive both benefits and risks related to geothermal energy projects in ‘their’ region,
  2. potential trust building mechanisms and barriers in the geothermal industry and responsible authorities, and finally
  3. whether it is possible to gain a social license to operate for regional geothermal development.

GEMex will study potential methods to balance out public concerns and industrial interests. Various techniques will support these studies including interviews of local and regional stakeholders and socio-economic impact analyses, finally leading to sustainable development and public engagement scenarios for geothermal in the study areas.